It’s admission season! Chances are, there is a boarding school fair happening near you. This type of “school speed-dating” can certainly be daunting—over 100 schools set up at different tables, hundreds of students and their families drift from table to table and pick up brochures of tree-lined campuses and smiling teens … Where do you begin?
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the admission fair circuit:
1. Do your research ahead of the event. Visit the website of the fair venue—they should have an updated list of schools that will be in attendance. Browsing the list ahead of time will allow you to hone in on those you wish to stop and talk to, which is important when you only have an hour or two and there are over 100 schools. Schools should be ordered alphabetically at the fair, so you can go down your top 10-20 list with ease.
2. Develop a quicklist of questions, and don’t let your parents do all the talking!
Ok, so that’s two tips in one—but they go hand-in-hand. While parents may have a lot of questions of their own (and they are certainly welcome to ask them) Admission Officers also want to see if the student is interested in what they have to offer. This is a great opportunity for a student to demonstrate confidence and maturity by asking questions and engaging the Admission Officer in discussion.
3. Fill out an inquiry card. If you are interested in a school, don’t let the fair experience be your only communication with the Admission Officer. Every Admission Officer wants to see that you are interested, and they want to follow up with you for a more in-depth discussion or to provide more information. Be sure to take one of their business cards and brochures, but also leave your name and contact information, as well as your interests, on the inquiry card they provide you. Remember: PRINT LEGIBLY! So often, students will scribble their names on a card and run off, and sadly, your contact information may be lost in the wind.
4. Prepare a resume. In a sea of prospective students, you want to stand out during the five to ten minutes you stop to chat with an Admission Officer at the table. Come prepared with copies of your resume, complete with name, address, honors and awards, work experience, and any clubs with which you are involved. Handing this to an Admission Officer will demonstrate that you are interested and organized, and will make it easier for them to follow up with you in the future.
5. Follow up. Chances are, if you handed in a resume and filled out an inquiry card, you will be receiving an e-mail or letter in the mail from the schools. But it doesn’t hurt to be the first one to reach out. E-mailing your Admission Officer or mailing a thank you card for taking the time to chat with you, will go a long way in forming a relationship and setting yourself out from the crowd.